When deciding what events to cover in Gippsland it’s always a bit of a guessing game for me, trying to pick what might be appropriate and could be considered of some historical value and worth writing a story for posterity. But I guess it’s not for me to decide what’s of historical value as, in many cases, not having much in the way of a record for even the most mundane seeming event could be leaving out a piece of history. Who knows that in 100 years, these sorts of events may be of great interest. Even just seeing some of the people about at such events could be of interest to future historians. This blog is predominantly about recording events etc in Gippsland in order to produce some sort of record for the future, so I guess it’s worth considering all and sundry as they come along. But to be honest, events etc that I cover have to also be of some interest to me; a regular crowded market or swap meet isn’t what I would call interesting, unless there was something quite special involved at the same time.
Mind you, guessing what might be of interest is not my only reason for attending the Tarwin District Auto Festival, as I’ve always liked anything that involves cars, bikes (the motorised type), farm machinery, steam engines etc. There’s something that I find engaging about old-time engines, whether they be internal combustion or steam driven. Given the option of owning a modern Ferrari or Lamborghini, I’d much rather own one from the 1920s-1930s, something with character and style. Modern cars and such can almost be considered ‘intelligent’ with the amount of computational power etc they have embedded within, but to me they have no soul. Classic cars and older have a soul and old steam engines almost have a life within them. You need to constantly feed and watch over the latter as they huff and squeal, demanding attention. It’s these old style engines that transformed civilisation from the horse-drawn plough to tractors etc and freed people from what was ostensibly slavery to the land. And there were a few of these very old stationary engines on display, needing that constant attention and often behaving like unruly children, not doing as they were told.
Then there were the cars, from vintage to modern. It was interesting talking to and hearing people talk about the cars on display, there was no doubt that the older cars were much more in favour and received a lot of attention compared to the modern variants. I don’t know whether it’s simply nostalgia (it was afterall a much older crowd in attendance) or an appreciation of simpler days when just about anyone could do some form of maintenance and fix things when they went awry. That’s not to say that older vehicles were inherently more reliable than modern cars, I don’t think that’s the case at all (I know that from first hand experience). However, talking to people it seemed that many had similar views to my own that once modern cars begin to fail, it’s going to be increasingly difficult (or very expensive) to find parts to keep them going for as many years as some of the classics on display. Mechanical parts are mechanical parts, but it’s the electronics that will eventually bring many cars to their knees. I can imagine the day when today’s cars have to be simply trailered to one of these shows, like an ornament, never to have the engine started.
But maybe in the future car enthusiasts will be replacing the engines with hidden electric motors and speaker systems to try and emulate days gone by. Meanwhile, those old classic cars of today and the steam and similar engines, that predate the classic cars, will still be chugging along (that is, if they are allowed to be used). Anyway, amongst the much older cars there were some newer ones as well, including some that had been built by owners and had not rolled off a factory floor. There was likely some interesting history amongst some of the vehicles, though I didn’t get the opportunity to discuss all the aspects of the vehicles that I filmed. This is where having a second person would be very handy, as while I filmed, they could talk to owners and ask questions while I recorded. Maybe one day I might find an assistant.
Now out of all the vehicles on show, two stood out in different ways from the others. Both had their own unique history that I’m sadly unable to provide much detail, but they certainly have a background that’s surprisingly similar in more ways than they are different. Both vehicles were built from numerous parts available at the time; however, while the methodology was similar, the outcomes were quite different. You can read some of the history of the ‘Hawker VIII’ from the description, but there was far more to it that the owner related to the interested crowd. The ‘Rambler Royce’ came with a different history that I can’t in all honesty write about as I wasn’t able to take notes, but it too was put together from varying parts into a whole. I think the Rambler Royce was by far the more elegant of the two vehicles, especially as it hearkened back to an era of opulence and extravagance that existed perhaps in the 1920s or 1930s. It actually looked a little like a Stutz Bearcat.
I have to say that I really liked one of the last cars to arrive at the show and that was the pearl white Chevrolet wagon. Kitted out with surfboard and surf rod; all that was missing was some Beach Boys music to set the scene. This was one very tidy vehicle indeed and that’s from someone who in the past hasn’t been that fond of some of the early American iron, or land barges that some have called them. But maybe I’m getting nostalgic, as I still remember having a ride in a friend’s open top Chevrolet (that’s what I think it was and it was one of the first in Australia) when I was around 6 years old. What an amazingly smooth ride it had over some of our rather poor roads of the day, you just floated over everything. I now see these vehicles as rebels that thumb their noses at modern buzz boxes and electric goggomobils that have absolutely no character, a symbol of what we have lost in recent years as all too many people try and rid the world of real cars. And I feel the same way about Tesla vehicles as well; to me they are nothing more than Eveready torches on wheels.
It’s always enjoyable to attend these sorts of events, even though it also fulfils an ulterior motive of challenging me to produce stories, photographs and now especially video. My confidence in producing the latter isn’t going to improve unless I keep filming as much as possible, learn from mistakes and keep going until important aspects become more or less second nature. Plus it gives me more opportunity to use my video editing program and become better at editing and audio. And it’s events such as these that provide a lot of varied elements that need to be considered in their entirety, which means that it forces me to think deeply as to what I’m going to cover and how I’m going to put together a meaningful story. But most of all, going to these sorts of events is just a lot of fun.